A PHARMACEUTICAL firm has invested a six figure sum into relocating its commercial and IT services in-house, creating jobs at its head office.

Norchem Group, based in County Durham, which owns 20 pharmacies across the region, has invested £150,000 in new technology to help run its new buying operation.

Norchem, which employs 250 workers at its headquarters in Chilton near Ferryhill, will now be able to support its customers through its own buying department offering products tailored to each individual pharmacy.

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About six new jobs have been created as a result of the investment including Jill Stirland’s appointed as the head of commercial. She will oversee the new team and will be able to apply her experience gained throughout previous commercial roles including at international pharmaceutical company, Glaxo SmithKline.

Norchem is a co-operative that is owned by about 80 of its employees and customers as shareholders. The group began by retailing pharmacies and wholesaling medicines to other pharmacies, hospitals, care homes and dispensing doctors.

Peter Batty, the company's chief Executive, said: “Moving our commercial services in-house was a conscious decision to consolidate the services we can offer customers. We can now provide a comprehensive service at competitive prices which will benefit our customers.

“At Norchem we pride ourselves on being owned by independent pharmacists for independent pharmacies, which is an ethos that fits extremely well with our recent investment to move this department in-house. This is just part of a number of changes we are making to the business in order to offer the best possible service to our customers.”

Jill Stirland said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me to really get my teeth into. It’s a new venture for Norchem and I’m looking forward to developing the department and making sure its services are flexible and competitive to benefit the customer.

“It’s really encouraging to be able to expand this part of the business when so many others are feeling the squeeze. This is an extremely positive step for Norchem to be able to operate a comprehensive service from its head office and as a result creating employment in the area.”